A lot of people say they stumbled into their jobs – and we have a lot of podcast episodes with guests who describe their career this way.
But we’ve never heard a story like Reham Fawad’s. Her product career was literally handed to her!
In today’s episode, Reham shares her knowledge and passion for product management, her 15 years of experience, and her insight into how to get into the profession. She also tells us about the amazing group she founded for Muslimahs in product – MVP!
Listen to Reham’s Story
Key lessons from this episode
- At the core of product management is empathy, listening to people and adding value to their lives in whatever way you can (6:00)
- Always look at the why and pull yourself back if you’re solutionising instead of listening (10:00)
- The question she gets asked all the time (hint: it’s about how to get into product) (19:00)
This transcript was auto-generated by Descript and is not 100% accurate
[00:00:00] Grace Witter: As Salaam-Alaikum, you’re listening to tech sisters stories. tech sisters is a community that connects you with other sisters who share your story experiences and goals. So you no longer have to feel like the only one like you on your team. My name is grace and I get to interview the amazing women in our community, share their stories and the lessons they learned.
[00:00:22] Grace: Today on Tech Sisters Stories. We are so very, very excited to have Raham Fawad. Reham is a senior product leader at Point click Care. With over 15 years of global product management experience across various industries, Reham has strong interest in using data and empathy to solve customer problems and has a successful track record in building digital products that have earned industry recognition.
Reham is excited by revolutionizing product portfolios in the operations and is always on the lookout to pioneer impactful changes in the digital world. Also, mashAllah Reham is the founder of Muslimah Vibes in product or mvp, and we are very, very excited to talk to another group that is in this Muslim women in tech space.
So very, very happy to have you on Reham.
[00:01:06] Reham: Thank you, grace As salaamu alikum, everyone. So excited to be on and just have a chit chat with Grace and you.
[00:01:12] Grace: Yeah, alhamdulillah. So how did you first get into tech? How did you first get into product?
[00:01:16] Reham: How did I first get into product? You know, that’s a really interesting, interesting question and everyone asks me that cuz I feel if when you’re a product manager, you know, and you know, if, you know that every other person wants to get into product in your company. So I was very lucky. My, my undergrad is actually in computer science, so I have so I’m in computer engineering, back academia.
And then when I started working I just kind of got into , the business analysis, sides of things. I started working at a bank. I was in Dubai at that point. I worked at the bank for a couple years because I had that sort of an undergrad. I was kind of put on the more technical sort of projects .
They were in the process of commercializing actually their in-house banking software. So I got tasked with that. That was kind of my step into business analysis, which, which to me is basically modern age product ownership.
So I moved here and I was applying to jobs and I wasn’t getting any, cuz I didn’t have Canadian work experience, although I had Canadian education.
So I, there was a point where I was just like applying to any jobs. I was, I had applied to a tech support job, to tell you the truth, at a company called Hostway. They were pretty big with domain hosting and, and web building and all of that. And I had gone in for the interview and at the end of the interview they were like, well, we you feel like you’d be boxed in the technical support job.
And I’m like, no, you know, I’m interested. I wanna work all of that. Yeah. So I’d gone home and then they had called me back and said someone else in their company wanted to interview me and it was the director of product. And he put this job description in front of me and I had no idea what product management was at that point.
He put this job description in front of me and it was this amazing blend of technical plus businessy things. And I was , I was, in my head, I was super excited, right? Where I was like, being the calm cat doing my interview. And he was like, does this interest you? And I was like, Yes, this seems pretty interesting.
And in my head I’m like, just like jumping off the, jumping off the roof here. And that was my step into product advisor and I ended up getting hired there, and that was my first official product role as a product manager. And it was just, no looking back since then. And I’ve been so lucky, alhamdulillah because I know it’s not that easy to get into product.
I’ve mentored people, I’ve helped people, I’ve educated them on, you know, how to get into product. And I, it’s, it’s not, it’s never this easy. So I, I feel blessed, I feel privileged, I feel pampered in that sense. But that is kind of my journey into product management. And that’s, I’ve just been in product the whole time since then.
[00:03:41] Grace: Okay. That, that’s crazy. So it just fell out of this guide into your lap basically.
[00:03:46] Reham: it did. It really, really did. I had to do nothing. It just like, things just kept happening one after the other and everything was just, yeah, it’s, I, it amazes me, my story amazes myself to talking the truth cuz it’s, it’s never that easy and I mean, for me to not to go in for an interview for something else and then totally have something totally opposite of what I went in for is is not common.
And I went through a recruiter too and when they called me back for the second time, they had said, okay, so none of our clients have done this, but this particular one wants you back and it’s someone else in the company. And I was just, it was very interesting and I was very humbled and I still am.
And I, I just think alhamdulillah for that because I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I’m, I’m a, I’m product to the core from within.
[00:04:31] Grace: Oh, that’s so nerdy. So that’s such a product thing to say.
[00:04:33] Reham: yeah, yeah. I know it is. I know it is If I had to, if I had to do academia again, I’d be a computer engineer again. If I had to do my career again, I’d be a product person Again it’s just, I just have this love, love, love relationship with product management.
[00:04:48] Grace: Okay. Why? What? What is it about product management that is really exciting for you?
[00:04:53] Reham: Yeah. You know, so I, I thought about this, right, and I was trying to figure out like, why do I like it so much? So I think it’s because even just with my personality, like I’m, I, I’m a listener. I love listening to people more than talking, I guess, although, you know, I’m talking a lot right now,
but it’s, Yeah,
So it’s, it’s that, it’s just, you know, like just the curiosity, listening to people’s stories, their triumphs, their struggles, everything in between. I just believe that’s what makes the world colorful and it makes us human. So I’m a big believer of solving people’s problems, both personally and professionally.
And I feel that if I can make one person’s life easier, but them just talking to me, I want to be there. And, and honestly, I think that is the essence of product management is you need to be a great listener. You listen to your users, you listen to your customers, you, you read between the lines is really what you need to do.
And, and so I love the empathy part of the whole deal within product management. And I just, I just think it sits very well with just the way I am as a person. And you know, of course added benefits of you. You are actually building something that people end up using. And just seeing that in the market is so rewarding.
Like there are all those extra things too. But I think at the core it’s the empathy, listening to people, adding value to people’s lives in whatever way you can. That kind of gets me really excited about product management.
[00:06:16] Grace: That really resonates with me because I think how I approach product management is a very similar way. I really identify with listening as being like one of my superpowers, which is why as a host, I’m definitely the kind of host who will sit back and listen and let the guests do all the talking. Cause I like to listen.
I like to kind of digest things and think of questions to ask and then what? And go deeper. And I also like that product is at this sweet spot where you are kind of involved with the code, you are involved with the design, and you’re involved with the users and you’re in all three spaces, which makes me really happy, I think keeps me really engaged without getting too burned out on one specific thing.
I think that the challenges are really interesting, the way that things move. I think having this ownership responsibility of getting a product or getting a feature started first identifying what the problem is with your users and then iterating that solution to you have something and you get that final feedback from the customers and how it’s like really helping them is, is such a rewarding thing.
[00:07:17] Reham: Yeah, definitely agree. It’s, it’s, it’s a really good package and I, I mean, for any of your listeners out there that enjoy, that, enjoy the computer engineering part of things, but they want a business blend into that, I think this is a great career path for them because it, it blends the two really well together.
And so, you know, just for context, when I graduated and I was getting out of university, we were. We were in an economic downturn. There were no jobs out there. A bunch of people getting out of their undergrads. Were getting into masters. And my plan was always, if I don’t get a job, maybe six months a year into the market, then I would’ve come back for my second degree in business because I enjoyed that a lot.
So if your head space is there, then product management I think is the perfect blend from a career perspective for that.
[00:08:06] Grace: So this goes into another question that you mentioned before when you’re talking about how you’re mentoring people, getting into product management. So if somebody is listening to this and they have that mindset where they’re interested in the tech and the business and the intersection of these, how do they then get into product management?
[00:08:23] Reham: Yeah, I think if, and if your education is primarily on the technical side of things, and that I think was my struggle initially starting off is the business side of things, right? I’ve never studied it, I never had much experience with it. So you need to ramp up and you need to read whatever you can online.
I, I really think you can find a lot of resources online without having to pay additionally for you know, school or whatever the case may be. You can learn up on things, learn up on what marketing is, learn of what, like competitive research is, like learn upon usability, which I think would probably end up being their strongest points because it is kind of more attached to technical side of things than it is to the businessy, right?
Learn upon pricing what that really means and just generally, Go to market is a big term, just how that works. And I think that will be a big help. The other thing that I think is helpful and to learn up on is numbers. So I think as great as computer engineers are with numbers and calculus, I don’t think they have a very practical approach to accounting.
So I think you need a more accounting approach to math in product management than you do with, you know, calculus. So yes, if you’re programming, you need that abstract sort of, you know, thought around math. But if you’re in product management, you need to know your forecasting. You need to know how really that’s kind of done.
You need to know your numbers, you need to know your revenue, things like, oh. So read up on that because honesty, if anything is gonna make you uncomfortable during your first few years, it’s gonna be the business side and the numbers and the marketing side of things, . Because that’s not what you are probably gonna be strong at, right.
[00:10:02] Grace: Yeah, 100%. I think you’ve really put your finger on it. It, it’s, it’s really difficult to learn those skills. I mean, no, it’s not difficult. It’s just a different side of your brain. Because once you’ve been working in the tech space for a long time and you’ve been like really focused on your programming languages and building your, you know, building your scripts then transitioning and thinking about accounting, math thinking about how to make a business case for something and not because it would be really cool to code it, but because it’s gonna have this impact on our, on the, on the budget and on the forecast, and this is how we’re gonna do our roadmaps.
That is a really core skill that we need to have as product managers. And it’s a difficult thing to kind of learn and adapt to, but it’s, it’s, it’s that uncomfortability, right, of pushing yourself out of your comfort.
[00:10:45] Reham: Exactly. And one more thing I will add is, you know, if you are at a point where you’ve just gotten into a product role, , and you’re coming from a technical background as you’re working through things, always look at the why. And pull yourself back each time and ask yourself each time if you’re solutioning, because I think as technical people, our first thing is, oh, oh, the customer said they want x, Y, Z.
So if you put a button here, and if we do this and we do that here, this is gonna address it. But I think you need to really pull yourself back from that when you are sort of in that initial discovery mode with your users, because solutioning comes more naturally to technical people like us than getting to the higher level why and the value of why you’re building something to build that sort of, like you said, grace, the business case and all of that.
That goes before you get to the solutioning part within your sort of product lifecycle.
[00:11:37] Grace: I do this all the time. It’s a very easy thing to happen even with product managers who maybe don’t have that technical background. I think it’s just really easy to identify from your user feedback that they want this thing. And it’s a very clear feedback and it’s very easy to just change, But then you have to go back and see, well, what impact will this actually have on our overall objective and our why? Yeah.
[00:12:00] Reham: Exactly.
[00:12:01] Grace: you mentioned in your, in your bio that you’ve had your industry recognized projects, so I’m interested in hearing a little bit more of that. What, maybe what’s one or two projects that are like really special and what’s the story behind them?
[00:12:14] Reham: Yeah. A few years ago I worked for a company that acquired a very small, I think it was a two to three person company that were making GRC software, so grc, governance, risk and compliance. Right. So big within the auditors. And obviously, clearly I was working in the audit industry at that point in my career, and so my company, had acquired this other small company that was making GRC software.
It was the very first GRC software within our product line in the bigger company I was working for. And so I was the first product manager on there. And it was just a, it was a product that was well thought out from a value perspective, right? Like the owner that built it, he was an auditor himself. So you can imagine he really got to the pain points when he was building this thing.
So I was a first product manager working on that. I worked on it for a few years. Every year we had like 200% growth in revenue rights. It grew really fast. And we got to a point where we were actually first of all featured on the New York Times, you know, that board that’s on the New York Times Square.
The product was featured on there. So to me that was like, that’s amazing. And then Gartner, you know, that board, everyone knows that board
[00:13:19] Grace: Everyone knows
[00:13:19] Reham: and I’m sorry, I have no technical term for that board, but that board on New York Times Square where
[00:13:25] Grace: what you’re talking about. Yeah.
[00:13:26] Reham: Yeah. So that was on there. And then from an industry publication perspective, Gartner.
[00:13:33] Grace: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:33] Reham: If you’ve heard of them, Gartner is a huge publication. You know, they do a lot of magic quadrants, things like those. This product got featured there the first year that I was product managing it, and then , consecutive years it’s continued on there and grew on that magic quadrant, if you know what I’m talking about.
So that was really fun. That was really nice to be a part of. So that was what that was like. That’s my North American experience. Right. Then when I was working in Dubai, there was another one where, you know, I was working for that banking firm and they were sort of commercializing their in-house banking software.
So there was a big there was a big newspaper there or new sort of channel there that was called Times. And so this whole software got. Featured on there, and there was this whole story around it. And again, I was kind of, sort of the only business analysis person on there because I was sort of the only one that had that experience from a from an academia perspective.
So being a part of that was very rewarding as well. Now as I’m working at Point Care, their healthcare organization senior healthcare particularly, so long-term care. And so they’re market leaders in their sort of end as well. And so they get featured quite a lot on a bunch of their sort of healthcare publications.
And it’s always been very rewarding to be a part of these stories because, you know, you’re adding value because really that’s, at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there for, right? You know, you’re adding value because that’s why people are recognizing you for it, right? Your, your industry publications, whatever have you.
So that’s, those have been kind of my most proud moments.
[00:14:57] Grace: Oh, very, very well deserved. mashAllah. Those sound amazing. What a bunch of accolades. So incredible to be able to work on several projects like that. Ream. That’s amazing.
[00:15:06] Reham: Yes. Yes. It’s been I’ve been very lucky. Again, I feel right place, right time, usually for me, but alhamdulillah for that,
[00:15:13] Grace: alhamdulillah, it sounds like you’ve made lots of pivots, not just in the size of companies that you’ve been working at and what point of the product lifecycle you’ve been jumping into, but also you’ve pivot in various industries as well. So how have you managed to stay flexible with all these changes?
[00:15:29] Reham: Yeah, it’s been really amazing. There was a point in my career where I was mentoring a junior product owner, and he had asked me like Where, where do you see yourself next in a year? Right? Like, what would be different enough for you? Or, he was asking me more actually for my past experience. Right.
Like, what was different enough for you? And I told him switching industries, like, you know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s actually very rewarding to change industries. It opens your thought process, like you wouldn’t even imagine because you’re thinking from so many different perspectives. Right? So I was in FinTech, then I went to hosting services, then I went to financial again, so credit unions in Canada.
Then I went to retail, right? I went to e-learning, I went to healthcare. And just, just seeing how things really defer in industries and where they do not actually adds the confidence to the way your product manage things, right? Like some things, you know, in your gut. Are just right, right. Like, and, and your customers, as you’re talking to them, will eventually get to where you are thinking ahead for them.
Because you know, every industry, this is , this is how it needs to be done. Because every industry has struggled with that in my past experience. So that has been really rewarding. So I think maneuvering the industries has not been hard. I think for product managers it is a, it is a very steep sort of learning curve when you join the company, right?
You just kind of have to neck deep, just get into it. And that’s the best way to
I think in any job, learn all of the acronyms. Yes. That’s probably the biggest one. My first, my first month is like, learn all the acronyms and honestly, I treat industries as a product itself.
It’s like learning a new product, right? Because I, I think the industry, like a product, like what do they like, what do not like, how are they structured? What ticks for them, what doesn’t tick for them? Like things like those, just think of. An industry as a product and learn as much as you can about the industry.
And I think your gold, I don’t think it is a big roadblock switching industries. If anything, it is helpful in your longer term sort of career story. But it is really fun to switch industries because you kind of get to know what’s next. And so I remember now this person that was, that his question continued to say, so what’s the next industry you wanna work in?
And I had said, you know what? I haven’t worked in the auto industry, so I guess, I guess that would be nice. Next . So, so yeah, industry switching industries has been rewarding as well and, and a great learning experience now that I look in retrospect.
[00:17:56] Grace: So it sounds. Sounds like once you’ve moved past being stuck on one industry and when you’re in that situation where you’re learning lots of new things, you’re adopting really deep in this product mindset without having too much reliance on safe assumptions from being in the same old, same old. And that’s allowing you to get to the heart of things, to get to like these fundamental truths of how a product can be, how it should be growing, how the company should be evolving.
[00:18:23] Reham: Absolutely. Yes. Right on. Yep.
[00:18:25] Grace: Yeah. That comes with experience being able to see right down into it, right?
[00:18:30] Reham: It does. Yes. So I, yes. So I think when you, if I look at myself when I was the, in my first, first, second, third year of product management, yes, I was more on the solutioning side. Like, you know, getting myself out, getting myself deep in required quite a bit of muscle on, on my, on on my part. But I think now, as with, you know, with all this experience, with years of doing the same thing over and over again, you build that muscle and that muscle becomes so strong that you don’t even realize where you’re kind of skydiving all the way up to the, like, panoramic view of what things are.
And then nose diving right in the middle of the deep ocean to figure out like, okay, this is where the darkness is. So how can we make light here? , right?
So So without having to grim, but like, yes, I think as long as you keep practicing that you’ll get better at it. Don’t, don’t let it sort of demoralize you on, Hey, I don’t really get this, but you’ll get better at it.
As long as you keep practicing that muscle, it’ll just get stronger with years and experience.
[00:19:28] Grace: Yeah. I, I think that’s very, very true advice. Very fundamentally true. You mentioned that you do a lot of mentoring. What is maybe. The most common thing that your mentees are coming to you with and maybe what’s a piece of advice that you usually give your mentees?
[00:19:43] Reham: I think one of the most common things my mentees come to me with is how do I get into product? And it is a very interesting conversation for me because like I said, I’ve had a very privileged, very privileged journey into
[00:19:58] Grace: Well, it’s simple. All you do is apply
[00:20:00] Reham: Yeah. All you go apply for
[00:20:02] Grace: will give you a
[00:20:04] Reham: That’s right. Absolutely. But you know, just having asked these questions so many times and you know, it’s crazy, it’s, it’s.
It’s not like a certain role asks you this question within a company, it’s your qa. Okay? Your most obvious are your QA and your support analysts and your engineers, right? Like cuz they’re, they’re, I think they’re the closest to product managers. So they see like what they do, right? Then you’ve got, then on the periphery you’ve got your implementers or if you do consulting services business analysts from, from from the consulting part of your sort of companies, right?
You’ve got that, but, but you also have the co-op kid or the internship kid that’s just in for like three, six months , where it’s like, Hey, yeah, hey, how can I do this? Or sometimes you’ve got people in sales or marketing wondering, right? So the biggest thing that I’ve had to have had to kind of have conversations around with my mentees is this.
This fundamental question of how do I get in product? And honestly, to tell you the truth, it’s not just even people that I’ve mentored, but people that I’ve interviewed that can, that get a sense of, okay, this interview is not going very well. I’ve had interviews at the end of the interview ask me, so how did you get into product?
Like, they have tips for me. Like it’s, it’s very interesting that people, I get
asked this question a
[00:21:16] Grace: about this interview. I know it was a.
[00:21:18] Reham: yeah. I’ve, oh, I have been in multiple situations, like those candidates, I’ve been like, okay, well clearly I, I get a sense, but hey, if we don’t talk again, do you have any tips on what I can do next to get into product
[00:21:29] Grace: that’s saying that you’re a great interviewer. They really trust you.
[00:21:32] Reham: Clearly they’re really comfortable. Yeah. Well, I’m glad I got that. Take that as a compliment. So, I, I, so my, so my biggest thing around that is,
[00:21:43] Grace: Yeah.
[00:21:44] Reham: Be a part of affinity groups or communities, like, you know, how Tech Sisters is, be a part of these. I think a big audience of yours is women.
So there’s women in product, there are all these professional groups that exist out there, networking groups, communities, be a part of them, learn them, right? Like there’s a lot of opportunity to not just learn, but be noticed and get you know, get involved. There are local sort of events as well. So, you know, networking.
That’s one sort of theme that I will say is, you know, start your networking. Be a part of these groups. The second thing that I’ll say is read up, right? Like, so if this person is. Non-technical background. I’ll ask them to read up on the technical things, right? Like story writing, user requirements, the, the basic basics of codes, just so that you know what your engineering is talking about.
So not coding, but just acronyms that engineers use, right? Like, just be comfortable with that. Because again, I’ve had mentees that have had a marketing background and this technical stuff makes them so uncomfortable. And to me
it’s like, What
No. Yeah. It’s like, no, it’s so easy. They’re so friendly. It’s so, it’s common sense.
What Don’t get scared. And then I have had people that are on the engineering side where it’s like, okay, how do you kind of do value propositions? How do you do, you know, how do you, how do you ask the right questions? How do you sort of, you know, in those like revenue sort of conversations, how does it all make sense to you?
So that’s my second theme of advice is read up where you think you don’t know. Read up. There is so much material online that you can read up on so many things. Right? And then the third one, grace, which I think I didn’t. Al, although, although I have been lucky that I got into product management, but I, I think in the beginning I wasn’t very great at doing this, which is why I think my progression was slower in my first, I think four years or so than it was in my latter years, was talk to people internally, talk to your product managers, talk to your director of product or VP of product and just, just tell them you’re interested, right?
And just, just have that conversation with them because oftentimes these people are gonna help, or it is gonna be good for, for, for you to be on their radar, right? Because you know, if anything, you can take that step up within an organization when you’re doing a role switch, I think it’s a little bit easier to switch your role within an organization than when, when you’re going out.
Right? I wouldn’t say the same is true for other scenarios, but I’m just gonna talk about this particular one here is when you’re making that switch, try to do it within your organization because people know you, you, you’ve been there for a bit, right? So I think definitely sort of do that, right?
So network, really read up and skill up a little bit as mu as best as you can online.
And then let people know people around you. Let them know at work personally in the groups where let them know you’re interested in this thing and you know, in something or the other will will show up.
[00:24:30] Grace: inshallah.
[00:24:31] Reham: And so that’s kind of, yes, that’s kind of my package of where I take that conversation of how did you get in, how do I get into product?
How do I break into product
[00:24:39] Grace: So everyone can stop asking you now. We can just refer them to this timestamp of this clip. And
there you go. That’s
[00:24:46] Reham: That’s right. And my fourth one, grace, is, you know what, I’m always here if you guys have questions. Hey, ping me, look me up. Like I’m always here. You know, I just, honestly, this is, this is a very passionate topic for me and if I can help anyone, I, Hey, I am, I can talk on for hours on the topic.
So um, I’m always here as.
[00:25:06] Grace: So you mentioned affinity groups, which is a really great transition to talk about MVP. So tell us a little bit about your group and how you started and what, what’s your kind of hopes and dreams for, for your group?
[00:25:18] Reham: Yeah. Thank you for asking Grace. So I’ve, I’ve been noticing this for many years now. It’s not that this is, this has been the first year that I noticed and I did something about it, but it’s just like, and I kid you not, I’ve changed a few industries, I’ve changed several companies. I’ve worked across different sort of provinces within Canada, if not like, across just different countries. And it is really sad. But I have always been the only Muslim female product manager that I have known.
[00:25:53] Grace: I’m not surprised. Yeah, it
[00:25:55] Reham: Yeah. And, and Grace, honestly, like I was telling you earlier, like you were the second one. I know, right? Like, and it’s just so sad because I know they exist, right? Like they’re out there, I know they’re in technical fields and I think it’s a bit better for Muslim women in technical careers, but for some reason in product there’s sort of no one there.
So I kind of started researching, right? Several uh, years ago, and I was like, oh, look, generally if you look at the split of product managers between men and women, you have around 30% women product managers globally only within this cohort of product managers. And then I, and, and then I was like, that’s fine, but in my current place where I work, right?
Like things are different. I see so many women product managers, I was like, I was like, no. Like there’s gotta be something more to this stat that that skews it for Muslims, right? So then I sort of looked at that split by Ethnicity. Right? So, so then, then the statistic had said, I think there are around 72% of these product managers are white.
[00:26:56] Grace: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:57] Reham: But when you start looking at Asians, black or African Americans, an unknown group, it’s all under 10, typically under 5%. Right. So muslimahs like Right. Muslims are somewhere in there. And so now of this 10%, yeah, and this is Muslims. This is not even just women . So now if you take a fraction of women and then you, it’s, it’s under 5%.
Right? And so to me it’s always been insane of, okay, first of all, a lot of women do not exist. Although visually, you know, there are a lot of women in products, not that they’re not. , when you look at the global statistics, there aren’t too many. And then when you look at the math for Muslim women, it’s like, oh, no wonder I haven’t run into every anyone.
Cuz they’re very far and few between, right? Like, it’s like they’re, they, they do not exist. So, so I, so I’ve been, look, so I’ve been feeling this for a couple of years, right? And so my initial sort of thought had started with, Hey, I am so underrepresented, yet it is such an amazing career to be in. So my initial thing started with, I had this b a g, it’s called a big audacious goal on my, on my business office, right before Covid started that said, represent Muslim women in product management, right?
So to me at that point it was like, I just, I just wanna represent because like I don’t see any representation of it, right? And then as the years progressed, I honestly, grace, what it was, I saw my daughters growing up and have two daughters now. And so it was like, So when I retire, what do I tell them on how I made this statistic better for the world that they would grow up into?
Right? And so to me it was like, okay, I do wanna be a role model and I wanna make this right for them so that if they decide to go into this career path, they see more people, they see more Muslim women. And it’s, it’s not like, oh, they stick out like a sore thumb tech type of a thing, right?
And so that’s how I started with the whole notion. So, so honestly, so then I started looking at different affinity groups. Cause I was like, I just gotta go be a part of these Muslim affinity, some, some Muslim women in product group, right? And I found none. I found a whole bunch for Muslim women professionals.
I whole found a whole bunch for Muslim sort of engineers, women, right? Like I, I found a whole bunch for. Working Muslim as, but not one that was specifically for product. And, and I, and I, and that kind of led me to, I think these are all signs of I should just, what am I waiting for? I’ve, I’ve, I’ve noticed for a few years, nothing has
changed. What am I waiting for? The market is very empty. There’s a big niche here , so I should just create one. So I founded a group that’s called MVP and I had to pick that name because Grace, you’re
[00:29:37] Grace: it’s, it’s a product,
[00:29:38] Reham: term. It’s a pro, you know, you know, it’s a product term, right?
So it’s called mvp. Full name is muslimah Vibes in product. It’s us telling our product stories. It’s a group that’s all about connection, first of all, right? Like connecting and just getting to know more muslimahs in the space, but then also to the ones that are aspiring or new. Just kind of providing that mentorship, those networking events, whatever the case may be.
And my big ultimate goal is to get at least one of these Muslim women into that Tech Women Award of the year, right? Like or Women Entrepreneur Award of the Year. Cuz I don’t see Muslim representation there either. And I don’t know why. Right? Like we should, I would like to challenge that status quo cuz I know talent exists, right?
And so that’s my whole sort of, With mvp Is there, there was, there’s just a, there’s just a gap and I think it needs to be filled. And so I kind of started down this journey earlier in in December, 2022 to just kind of set those up and just kind of get my head around that. I think this is really the right thing to do.
Did a bunch of research, you know, good stuff that comes with product things. did all that research, everything. Niche doesn’t work. Is it gonna work? It’s not gonna work. Are people gonna ? Are people gonna be interested? And so just kind of having. To say, Hey, this is a forum. Muslim women, if you’re interested in product, if you are in product, if you are say like in the user UX part of product and now you wanna get into the management part of product, like, you know, like here’s a platform where we can network, where we can kind of talk about what openings may exist.
Cuz we all work at companies. I’m sure they have openings. Like let’s talk about those, right? Or let’s meet up and let’s talk about best practices. You know, if you wanna kind of really get your marketing skills honed up, let’s, let’s give you an introduction to that or the other way around, right? Like, if you wanna really know what technical and programming is sort of all about, not that we are program, but let’s get you going on the technical terms that may sort of scare you away, right?
So just creating that safe space for Muslim women, which I don’t think exists. And creating awareness to tell you the truth. Because one thing that doesn’t happen and I don’t think it still. Did anyone ever tell you what product management was in high school? In university? Although now, yes, they have programs in university.
No one told us what product management was. I don’t understand why it’s such a coveted, it’s such a coveted career path, but yet no one tells you about it until you reach the workplace again. Now it’s getting more popularity, right? Like in your, in your universities and your institutions. But I’m sure high schools still know
I don’t think they talk about it and I, I, I don’t see why not. Right? And so one of my goals is to raise awareness for that within the kids that are heading into universities and colleges, right? Like tell them about this possible path that, that they could get into, right? So just so many thoughts and I know they’re very raw thoughts right now, but that’s kind of where my head was at when I kind of said, okay, time to get a group started so that we can materialize all of these thoughts that I’ve had for several years now that I think.
Nothing to me in my research was being done about that. So let’s just create a space where we can.
[00:32:42] Grace: It’s really amazing for me listening to you say that because you’ve said pretty much exactly the same words and the same phrases that I’ve used when I describe how I started Tech Sisters
[00:32:52] Reham: Mm. Wow. mashAllah.
[00:32:54] Grace: There’s so much overlap. It’s really, really interesting. subhanallah I went into engineering first.
I was front end dev. I taught myself how to code when my youngest was a baby. I had been working in that space for a while and for a couple years, never ever saw any other Muslim woman in a work setting would go to conferences, would never, ever see any other Muslim woman. And this is in Central London, which is an incredibly diverse city.
And I’m like, they exist, like you said, they’re definitely out there, but we’re not connecting.
[00:33:23] Reham: Yeah.
[00:33:24] Grace: and like you said, you know, did the, the research and there really wasn’t anything that was presenting Muslim women. in this tech space. So I had it a little bit more general as just tech in general. So including product, including design, including engineering.
If you define yourself as being in tech, you can be a tech sister
[00:33:44] Reham: Amazing.
[00:33:45] Grace: but there wasn’t anything like that. And that’s why we focus on the stories first of all, was to have that representation of there are women who are already out there and who have been out there for many, many years who are in their careers and they’re not sacrificing their identity.
They’re not sacrificing their dean. They’re able to succeed at work while being themselves, without having to put on a mask or to code switch or whatever. Here’s their story, here’s what they’ve gone through. And then we have the community for women who are listening to that and are like, yes, that’s me, or that’s who I wanna be.
Or maybe I’m thinking about it, but I don’t know how to get there. And in the community you’ll meet other women who are like you, who have the same values, who want the same things for, they want the flexibility, they want to be able to pray and to not have to worry about that at work, right?
They want all of that. So they have the same. Values the same, very similar backgrounds. Tech Sisters is incredibly diverse. We have lots and lots of ethnicities represented. So when you were saying that Muslims fall under that other category, I feel like that is our whole demographics,
[00:34:51] Reham: Yes, yes. I would think so too.
[00:34:55] Grace: It covers a lot. And then we, we have support on how you can get to where you wanna be. So we have the mentoring, we have the, the how to develop your skills helping you with your CV and interview practice and all of that
[00:35:07] Reham: Amazing,
[00:35:09] Grace: So yeah, very, very similar motivations and objectives here.
[00:35:12] Reham: And you know, that’s so amazing because one of the things when I was starting this off was, well, if there isn’t any representation, then is anyone even gonna care or show up? Right? And so I started looking at all the groups that we had, and so I ran into Tech Sisters and honestly, grace, it was so nice to see that yes, people want to have that interaction with the same cohort, it’s just that it possibly, perhaps doesn’t exist, but when it does exist, like Tech Sisters, there’s some great conversations that happen there.
You know, like you’re saying that there are multiple ethnicities, so, so yes. Like just justifying the fact that yes, this cohort. It just doesn’t have representation or, or, or a community or a platform to have those conversations in. And so thank you for creating Tech Sisters, because that actually showed me promise on, Hey, we’re out there.
We just, we just need to empower each other and just make sure that we’re like, just, you know, growing where we wanna grow or have awareness of what exists out there in the professional.
[00:36:13] Grace: alhamdulillah we’re in the middle of doing our community health assessment. So every year we have a really big survey. Then we do a report with lots of metrics. This is very product on how we’re growing and how the, how the strength of the community is and if we’re serving our audience and everything like that.
Of, one of the, the key points that keep coming through again and again is validation on just how much groups like Tech Sisters and like M V P are needed cuz we’ll hear feedback from Tech Sisters Being, I’ve been working in tech for 10 years. For five years. I’ve never seen any, just like us. I’ve never seen any other Muslim women.
I’ve been searching online for this and stumbled across your website and I’m so excited by the representation. I’ve been trying, wanting to go into tech, but my family doesn’t feel like this is a safe place and now I have all these women to show them as examples of you can do this and you’re gonna find us the same.
When you have your membership grow there is barrakah and having a group like this, this is a way of doing . This is a way of serving the
[00:37:16] Reham: Absolutely.
[00:37:16] Grace: I think maybe one warning is because this is a niche within a niche and you’re having another niche within that, the growth will be slow
[00:37:24] Reham: of course. Yes. Yes. I can see that.
[00:37:28] Grace: it will be, it’ll it’ll be slow. It’ll be very rewarding and have lots of barrakah with it.
[00:37:34] Reham: ameen ameen inshAllah I, I hope that is truly the case. And, and again, I think like you’re saying, it’ll be, it’s all about barrakah, it’s all about sadaqa jariyiah, right? Like, it’s, why, why are we doing this grace? It’s not making money off of it. No one’s gonna pay us. We’re not getting a salary off of this, right? Like, no, we’re taking time away from probably doing this at night when the kids need to be put to bed, right?
Like, so we’re missing out on that. But the whole point is, Is you, it’s our way of empowering the Right. Because to me, when I look at myself, I’m not a . I’m not a, I’m, I’m not a I’m not a ya Like I can’t go up on stage and talk about religious stuff. Like I’m, I’m learning like I, I, so right. So it’s like, well how do I give back to my You know, these people have skillsets, they have education in what they talk about.
So how do I give back to the umma? Well, I think the only strong skill I have is yes, it’s product management and I’ve got this experience. That’s my way of giving. Of giving back. Right. And I heard a great talk by a scholar, by a Muslim scholar once and he had talked about how, you know, Allah. Doesn’t want us to just sit and like not do anything, but he’s given us skillsets.
He’s given all of us skill sets, and as we start honing them, as we start getting into workplaces, we are basically using our strengths and our skillsets to grow in those areas. And so we should put them to use for the greater umma and share that skillset with them. And to me, really this is what it is.
It is about right. Like if there is something that I do in my day job that can help the ummah and help us grow and just be stronger, then I’d like to give that back. Right? And so it just is It has nothing to do with, Hey, I have some political agenda in mind, or like, I want this X, Y, Z. At the end of the day, it’s just honest conversations.
Let’s have them. The world is so connected now, like compared to maybe even 10 years ago. Everything is so accessible. Why not? Why not? Why not use that to just strengthen our umma, right? And That’s what this is all about.
[00:39:33] Grace: There’s a dua my mentors taught me. And it’s, it’s just a dua that she says it’s a personal one. So it’s not like a hadith or anything. And I’m going to insert a note for Editor Grace in the future to say it because I’m not gonna remember the whole thing now.
so the dua for that is Oh Allah you know me better than I know myself, I believe in your oneness. You know, my strengths and my weaknesses. My sins and my good deeds deeds. I lived my life to serve and worship you. use me my Lord. With that, which is pleasing to you. use me in furthing this deen and ultimately bringing people back to your worship.
I trust in you. I present myself fully to the ways in which you will answer this, do a. I will do my utmost best to grab hold of the opportunities you bring my way. And make me sincere. You use me for your sake ya Rabbi
but the point of it is asking Allah to give us the opportunity to acknowledge any opportunity he gives us to do good.
So to see any opportunity where we could use our existing skills to see people who need our help at it’s helping us realize the good that we can do with where we are right now. So, like you’re saying, we’re, we’re not shayok our knowledge of the Dean is limited. But that doesn’t affect how much we’re able to help or the impact that we’re able to do right now with the skillset and the knowledge that we have.
It just means that it’s going to be different from what you’ll see on the Islam channel, right? When you make that dua and it, it’s, it’s very, very powerful. You’ll start seeing all these, all these people come to you, and then you’ll see ways that you’ll be able to help them. And it, it’s just a way of Allah showing you that the path that you’re on is where you were always meant to be.
Knowing product or knowing tech isn’t a deviation from the dean, this is a way, just a, a diverse way of helping and being of assistance.
[00:41:31] Reham: Exactly alhamdulillah. So true. And so well put, grace, that’s exactly what it is, right? Is there is a point where you do come to that realization of, hey, so what if my skillset is different and not your typical sort of scholarly skillset, you can still give back if you try to be creative with that, right?
And, and really, if you think about this, people that are technical, people that are in product, what are we doing?
We’re shaping the products of the future, right? That’s really what it is. So let’s do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s have our say in those products. Let’s have our say in what we build, what gets out there the APIs, what, whatever the case may be. It’s, it’s really building the future. It’s really building tomorrow.
And so, like you said, grace, that’s our way of giving back, is we wanna make tomorrow stronger.
[00:42:19] Grace: Yes. And here’s another aspect to that. In tech, especially, what audience is most likely to get overlooked? It is women, it is people of color. It’s who we are as Muslim women, so we can really help tech be representative, serve communities in a much more authentic way. You know, not just glossing over the problems, but really addressing brute issues by being part of these conversations, by being part of companies and building products that are doing good.
Even starting our own companies that are addressing things that we feel like have not been addressed.
[00:42:56] Reham: Absolutely. And what I wanna add to that, grace is I feel like a lot of times when we’re watching, watching things on the media or the social network, all of that, I think a lot of times Muslims are not really put in the most positive light. So there’s this, there’s this thought, and I’ve talked to other Muslims that work, right?
Not in tech, just generally, you know, in tech also, but across as well. And there’s this, there’s. Belief that hey , if we let our true authentic selves be known at work, then they’re gonna look at us weird. Right? Smallest thing. Hey, if I tell them I pray five times a day and in hr, can you just give me a small room or whatever.
It could be their storeroom. Cuz I’ve prayed in Storerooms for at one of my jobs and hey, I’m okay with that. I’m okay. That box crashes on my head. I, I just gotta talk to Allah. Right? Right. So it’s like, you know, having that conversation and being okay, people are not comfortable.
People think that they’re gonna be looked at weird, that they’ll be questioned and there won’t be support.
But let me tell you, from my 15 plus years of experience, mostly in North America, mostly working with non-Muslims. Actually, you know, more than, yeah, it’s always working with non-Muslims. Every time I’ve had a conversation about Islam, They’ve listened with such curiosity that it’s humbled me and it’s made me think because the, the equation goes both ways, right?
So non-Muslims see stuff on TV and they think certain things about Muslims. Well, US Muslims see stuff on TV and think a certain way about non-Muslims too, right? It’s like, oh, they’re gonna think this is so weird. But never in my career, once in North America, have I ever had the issue of people not understanding of them, them not being accommodating of them, not of them looking at me weird.
Right. To a point where like, again, I I do feel I leave a privileged life and I have not had to face these hardships because I know they exist. And the funny thing is, I actually had a conversation with one of my bosses and he, he’s a Christian, he is white, and I said, I don’t really think people are racist to Muslims.
Do you think that’s true? And he was like, he was such a great guy. And I, and I love him. He’s one of the best mentors that I’ve had in my career. He had said, Raham, they do exist. I have a friend that’s kind of like that. So they do exist. And so to me it was like, okay, it’s not like they don’t exist.
Fine. They do exist, but the majority of them like bad apples, right? Yes, they do exist. It’s not gonna be the majority in the box, but there’s like gonna be a couple fine. That’s true for every ethnicity, every religion, every political group, every whatever the case may be. Right? So if you listening to this are uncomfortable being known as a Muslim in X, Y, z or some value that you kind of, sort of really value but are, are uncomfortable sharing that at work or in your professional space, don’t be Oftentimes the issues are in our head.
The confusion is in our head more than it exist in real. Don’t be just. People will listen more than you think. They will listen and there will be more understanding than we think they would be of our ethnicities and our religious backgrounds and whatever have you.
[00:46:04] Grace: Yeah, definitely. Especially in tech because they’re making such an effort to have more DEI. They, from what we’ve seen in Tech Sisters members. HR really welcomes feedback that is pointing out where they can improve DEI and specifically how to do that. So, Like we’re recording this just after Christmas, and Christmas is a really great example for this.
We’ve had a lot of Tech Sisters members who will talk about feeling very awkward around Christmas parties because of the drinking or just because of Christmas in general. And this is a really great opportunity to talk to DEI and, you know, voice your concerns and you don’t have to worry about being a wet blanket because this is what they’re there for, right?
You can say, I’m just not comfortable going to these parties. One, is it okay for me not to attend? Or two, is it okay for us to have it in a different venue? Maybe not a bar or a pub, but someplace else where there’s just like food where I can eat. You know, you can work out different compromises and, and just so that they know where your boundaries are and they can respect them.
And I think this also comes, you know, we were talking about having experience and being able to see deep into things and going into the depths. Experience is also knowing your boundaries and knowing how to articulate them and when to really enforce them and be very strict about it. I think when you’re very new to something, it feels very uncomfortable to talk about your boundaries, to even know where they are, cuz you wanna fit in, right?
But then once you have more experience and you are like, I’m just not gonna put up with this anymore. Cause I know it doesn’t really matter if I’m not, if I don’t go to that certain work event. Most of the time they’re not really going to even notice that you’re there . Right? And you can show up in, in other ways at work.
So yeah, having more experience with that is, is really clutch.
[00:47:55] Reham: Absolutely right on And alhamdulillah for, for everything and for being Muslim.
[00:48:02] Grace: Yeah.
You’ve mentioned before projects and products that you’re really proud of. Is there something else that you’ve accomplished in your career that’s like your proudest moment or something that’s really special to you?
[00:48:19] Reham: You know, and I think this is the great segue is. Having HR provide a dedicated space for praying to Muslims. So a couple of companies ago, , because of my experience, and I think Allah does everything for a reason, because of my experience of never having to face friction with my faith being known to non-Muslims at work, I’ve been more confident in just asking and saying, right.
So usually when I join a company, I’ll go to someone in hr, or actually on my onboarding days, my question will just be
[00:48:58] Grace: I do this too. Yeah.
[00:49:00] Reham: Yeah. It’s like, dude, it’s like, Hey, I, I have to pray during the day. Do you have a dedicated room? So anyways, I was in this company and we did not, right? And so sometimes I’d pay in meeting rooms and sometimes I’d pray elsewhere.
And then I went to HR and I said, It’s, it’s okay. But this meeting room that I prayed actually doesn’t have those frosted glasses. It’s, it was like a SeeThrough glass. And I was like, it’s very uncomfortable praying when I tried to have an intimate mo moment with God. Right. I feel like even
if there was no one
there, that they’re all watching
Right. So I was like, cannot get a little bit more for private place. And they were very accommodating. Right? So they were like, okay, yes. Downstairs we had this like, training room and so they were like, okay, we’re gonna, you know, this is the space you can use and no one really shows up here, so you’re welcome to pray here.
I was like, okay, thank you. alhamdulillah. So I knew one Grace, I knew one Muslim in that company at that point, and I went up, I’m like, Hey dude,
[00:49:52] Grace: I got you. We
[00:49:54] Reham: I got
yeah. I was like, I got you. And if you pray, cuz you gotta, you gotta be careful, right? Because you know, you can’t expect every, like, you can’t ex. So I was like, Hey, if you pray or if you ever wanna pray, maybe during Ramadan, because that’s when we’re more like observing of our like
[00:50:10] Grace: You’re
[00:50:10] Reham: was like, Hey, I got a room. Yeah, I was trying to be, I was like, Hey, there’s a room downstairs if you ever wanna use it, I can show it to you. So I said it in a way where I’m like, I can show it to you and I’m gonna walk away now from this conversation. He’s like, Hey, can I see it right now? I was like, oh yeah, let’s go.
So I showed it to him. Okay. So we started praying. Then we, then I, then I met like one two other Muslims at work, right? And then we tend, then I told them, and then what was really interesting, grace is within our engineering group. So this initial Muslim man that I told you, he worked with a bunch of engineers and a couple of them were extremely practicing Christians.
So they started using the room, right? Like, so they, it became this prayer interface, prayer room that really was this one recording meeting room was really what it was that no one used because we had let that floor, that specific office, we didn’t use because we moved everyone to the floors on top type of a thing, right?
And so, to me, I think as I look back, alhamdulillah, right? Like I, I hope that is my one good deed. That’s gonna pull me into jannah. If I have just like one good thing she did that’s gonna get her into agenda, right? Like, I, I, I’m so proud of doing that and I’m, I’m so thankful to tell you the truth to Allah for giving me the opportunity and the confidence because I’ve never had to face the friction
to, to, to comfortably sort of challenge the status quo and be like, Hey, you guys, hr, you don’t have a room mind giving us a room cuz there are a bunch of us at work, possibly, right?
And so that room started getting used not just by the Muslims, but also the Christians. And that was just so, so, so nice to kind of see
[00:51:43] Grace: That’s really beautiful. MashAllah. You know, we hear all about the barrakah of donating to a masjid building project, and you know how much barrakah there is in one brick. This is the same idea, right? You’re providing a place for people to pray.
[00:51:59] Reham: yes. And so to me, I think, you know, work everything, all things aside,
[00:52:05] Grace: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:06] Reham: to me, I always think of this because I always. Hopefully this opened the doors for other people once I left the company. Right? Because the couple people that were praying there were, there were still there when I left. And so it was like, hopefully, you know, this is, this is something that will be shared and it’s all about sharing, right?
Like it’s all about sharing the goodness. So hopefully this will just continue to be
[00:52:29] Grace: Well inshAllah Well inshAllah may this be like a really heavy sadiqa jariyah that’s heavy in your scales and we’ll get you into jannah inshAllah. That’s really, really beautiful.
What is something in your amazing career path that you regret or you wish that you did differently?
[00:52:44] Reham: talk to more people internally when I was trying to change either products or going from a BA to say, a more product focused role, right? Like trying to. Talking to more people internally is always helpful because I think because they will listen and they may have opportunities that may not be marketed on their website, on the careers page or whatever the case may be, but they may be thinking of an opening, right?
Because I’ve had cases where I’ve left companies and then directors and VPs and have asked me, Hey, you know, like, what made you move? And I had kind of said like, Hey, the next step up. And they had said, oh, you should have talked to us. You should have talked to us. We were thinking about it opening, right?
And so like that’s always I think, been probably a regret in my earlier career years, where I think just talking things a little bit more openly, even if it’s your career aspirations at work is important.
[00:53:45] Grace: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:46] Reham: And I, and I, you know, grace, I think it. There are many aspects into this, but I think a huge part of it is to do with the fact that generally as muslimahs or as Muslims, we are not very forthcoming with what is on our mind or what we value or where we wanna go, because we feel that will not be that’ll not be, that’ll not resonate to the audience you’re trying to talk to.
So I feel generally we are more guarded with having open conversations, whether that’s about careers or that’s about faith, or that’s about, Hey, I don’t wanna go to a pub, to, to your networking event. I don’t mind presenting that I am doing it at a pub. Right. Because like, you guys don’t understand, when you don’t drink
[00:54:26] Grace: Yeah.
[00:54:27] Reham: smell, there’s a certain smell to them, let alone everything else.
Right? Like there’s, there’s so much that goes with
[00:54:32] Grace: uncomfortable. It’s just uncomfortable. Like it’s, it’s not enough like that. I have a non-alcoholic drink. It’s that you guys are all doing your own thing.
[00:54:41] Reham: Yeah. And I’m just like this weird, I’m just sticking out like a sore thumb and it’s just really awkward for me right now. Right, right. So that’s, I think that’s my one thing. There are many, there are many. I mean, I, you know, I think we all make a bunch of mistakes, but I think if I was to pick one for the audience, it would be, this is, have open conversations.
I think they’re so important at work.
[00:55:05] Grace: Yeah, definitely. And the last question I have for you today, Reham, what is somebody or something that you’re most grateful for over your career?
[00:55:16] Reham: So somebody I’m very grateful for and this person has been part of my, part of my career path more recently, and I’m gonna take his name cuz he’s super amazing. His name is Henry and he’s been one of my previous bosses. And I always tell them he, he’s been my saving grace in a lot of ways. And you know why Grace?
Cause a lot of every product leader that you have, or a manager that you have, will not bring empathy to his, to their team, to the level that someone like Henry does, right? So he cared about, Hey, we need to do the release, we need to get out there. There’s all of this. But he really cared about the people.
His one-on-ones were about the person that they were with, and he deeply cared, right? Like he, he knew my kids. And you know, for a person that’s generally guarded with like private life stuff at work, right? Like he was, you know, he was comfortable enough where, you know, he knew my kids, he knew things I was going through my values, all of that, right? You know, one thing he did and if, if you are a manager that manages teams, because to me that wasn’t, that’s what I’m gonna do with my teams is he made this, he made this graph cuz he joined at a point where I was fairly frustrated with the company that I was in. Right. He made this graph and he called it the Reham’s Happiness Graph.
Right. And we would plot my happiness against that graph. Yeah. In all of our one-on one almost. And it was amazing. Even if I didn’t move on that graph, which by the way I did, not because the company did anything different, but because Henry was my boss, so the person I immediately reported to cared. So just knowing that someone cares in your, like your boss cares is huge.
Right. And so I, Henry by far, I think is one of the best bosses I’ve had through my careers. And I’ve had a couple, they all come very close to Henry, but Henry, like if I had to say topmost guy, Henry’s up there, right? Like Henry, if you ever listen to this, thank you. And I think I’ve told you multiple times how amazing you are.
You are because there’s so many people at work that you’ve changed work and the atmosphere and the feeling and the mental stress for that. We call it sadiqah jariyan in Islam. But really what it is is good deeds that you do that help you in the afterlife and give you this peaceful life in heaven is really my like, super abstract way of explaining that like you’ve done so much that it’s, it’s just been so amazing.
And so he has been one of the people in the last several years that has made a, made a huge impact for me at work because of his empathy, because of him just listening and him. You know, feeling the person out, right? Like just if I’m happy, he was happy, he was happy with me, he was happy before me to tell you the truth.
If I was like sad or like, you know, my, someone in my family was sick, which also happened, he was grieving more than I was grieving. And you know, to get that feeling from someone that you’re talking to, particularly reporting to makes a huge difference, right? And so I’m a believer that if you are in, if you are studying in a university or school, or if you are working, the biggest impact that’s going to have in whether you make it or not, is your professor and your boss.
That’s it. You may have the skillset. To the moon and back and everything, but if you don’t have a good leader that you’re reporting to or that’s managing you, you’re not gonna make it. You’re gonna hate it. You’re not gonna make it. Your skills are gonna be of no use. You just, it’s, they, they make or break the deal for you, whether you’re studying, whether you’re at work or whatever the case may be.
Your leaders, empathetic leaders that feel for their people make make people’s lives.
[00:59:08] Grace: Yeah, mashAllah. So really beautiful how that became just a direct letter to Henry right there.
[00:59:14] Reham: Yeah, I know . Sorry, I had to, I had to I find, honestly, I try to find every opportunity I can thank him because that’s the impact he’s had on my life, And it’s mostly philosophical. It’s mostly more with like mental health and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a lot to do with that, but it, it holds such a great weight.
[00:59:33] Grace: It really does. It really does. Especially when you have that example and then you could hold it up to your other bosses. Cuz like you were saying that’s the biggest factor, whether you’re gonna make or break it. So if you have that example of what a good boss is, there’s no need to suffer needlessly under a bad boss.
Right. Once you’ve found yourself in that situation and if you’re able to, cuz a lot of people are not able to, but if you’re able to get out of there , there’s no need. You, you don’t have to suffer with that.
[01:00:00] Reham: Yes, exactly. and I recently I, I recently wrote a blog post that talks about if you’re in a product career and you’re not happy, don’t settle.
[01:00:12] Grace: Yeah.
[01:00:13] Reham: You’re under a bo bad boss. Don’t settle, don’t, don’t continue torturing yourself. Right? Like, don’t, it’s not worth it because when you look back, it wasn’t worth it.
And so then you’re think, oh, I should have just done something different.
[01:00:27] Grace: The amount of stuff that you’ll learn when you’re with a boss that is empowering you and you’re in a company that’s interesting. When you’re working on a product that’s interesting, your skills and your knowledge and your confidence in yourself is going to go so much higher than when you’re in a place where you’re miserable, right?
And where you’re not being challenged. So even if you’re at that place for only a couple of months and then you’re, it’s so the timescale doesn’t matter when you look at your cvs, the experience that you’re building when you’re happy is so much more meaningful than at a place where you’re sad.
[01:01:01] Reham: Absolutely. 110% true
[01:01:04] Grace: Reham, is there anything else that you feel like, I feel like we’ve covered so much. Okay.
[01:01:09] Reham: Yes. I feel like I’ve talked a lot. I’ve talked a lot considering this was done first thing in my morning.
[01:01:15] Grace: know so far, so this is really amazing. But is there anything else that you feel like you would like to cover? Any last words of advice, anything like that?
[01:01:24] Reham: No, the only thing the only thing I wanna say is be your true self when you show up to the world because they care more than you think they care. And we need to see more Muslim as be more visible people.
[01:01:37] Grace: Yeah, yeah, definitely. This is so lovely. I’m gonna really enjoy this one. Thank you so much, reham. And it was just really lovely having you on
[01:01:47] Reham: thank you so much, grace. It was awesome talking to you, alhamdulillah. And salaam for everyone who lasted this long hearing, my endless things to say to the world
[01:01:57] Grace Witter: And as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. If you liked it and you like what we’re doing at Tech Sisters consider following us, leaving a review, sharing this episode with any friends or even supporting us on Patrion. All of those really help us a lot. This is a completely non-profit organization. We’re just doing this for.
Sadaqua , so anything that helps more Muslim women find us and discover us and hear the stories is immensely helpful. And if you are a Muslim woman in tech, please go ahead and check out our community. It is completely free and fun and very supportive. You can join by going to our website tech-sisters.com and filling out the membership form, and you will get a link right away into our slack. So it’s really, really easy.
And that is all for me. And I’ll see you next week. As Salaam alaikum.